Agnès Poirier

French anglophile journalist

Agnès Catherine Poirier (born 1975) is a French journalist, writer and broadcaster.


  • Booing the Marseillaise is a very symbolic gesture, especially when it comes from French nationals. France was built on an unwritten national contract, that of a community sharing not only the same geography but also a sense of a common destiny. The Republican model is that of integration and togetherness, not of peaceful cohabitation between separate communities, as with multiculturalism. Integration supposes a will to integrate and a desire to live together. Since the 1960s, the French left has shied away from any debates brushing on anything linked with, in its eyes, the awful word of "nationalism", forgetting that the political concept born in the 1840s was a progressive one.
  • I was 12 when I first saw Les Enfants du Paradis, at the Ranelagh theatre in Paris, a stone's throw from Balzac's house. The neo-Renaissance theatre screened this story of mimes, actors, impresarios and swindlers every week-end for more than 20 years until the 35mm print became too fragile. Two generations of cinephiles did as we did, going up the little street like pilgrims on a quest. If God was a film director, he would have made this film, thought the child that I was. Later in my teens, I would go back to the Ranelagh, dragging school friends along. If they didn't get it, I'd never speak to them again.
  • Prévert wrote the part of Garance for Arletty, France's biggest star before Bardot. Garance and Arletty are the same and one woman, the epitome of the Parisian, according to Prévert: strong, independent, witty, impudent, mysterious, the kind who casts spells, whose laugh ricochets, the kind who loves life and whom life loves.
  • I was called Agnès after a character in a Molière play. When I looked at names for my daughter, I wasn't sure until Garance was uttered, and that was it.
  • During the war, some publishers chose to close down rather than collaborate with the Nazi occupation, while others—like Gallimard—decided to remain open and negotiate with the German authorities. Appointing an outspoken fascist writer like Drieu La Rochelle to a crucial position at Gallimard pleased the Nazi overseers and created a clever smokescreen—for the résistants, too, were operating from the offices of Gallimard. One was the long-time editor of the literary journal La Nouvelle Revue Française, Jean Paulhan. The two writers' tiny offices stood next to each other. How could they cohabitate? Easily enough, it turned out: such was Paris during the Occupation, a place of moral ambiguity, of cowardice, treason, and courage living side by side. Drieu the collaborator and Paulhan the résistant coexisted without rancor, their love of literature cementing their mutual respect. For four years, they published both rightist and leftist authors under the noses of the Nazis. For them, as for Gaston Gallimard, one thing only counted above all else: the talent of the writer.
  • The uncanny thing about spinal surgery, or at least the kind I had, is that I’m not allowed to sit down for three months. I can lie down or stand up, or at most perch on the edge of a bar stool for no more than 15 minutes at a time. This means reading and writing standing up, changing positions often and lying down to recuperate in between. My horizontal life has thus been rich and allowed for hours of listening: radio documentaries about Victor Hugo, radio dramas such as the Charles Paris mysteries, and mindfulness meditation podcasts during which I have discovered the art or rather science of proprioception; in other words the awareness of one's body position in space through nerves, muscle and joints.
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